COVID-19 REGULATIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR RESTAURANTS

Government has taken steps to prevent an escalation of the COVID-19 disease. The disease is a pandemic and has serious consequences regarding the health of citizens as well as the economy.

The steps have a significant impact on the hospitality industry sector comprising restaurants, taverns, pubs and function venues regarding the sale of liquor (defined as on consumption premises).

A separate dispensation applies to accommodation establishments.

The wording used in the Regulations leaves much to be desired.  It appears that Government’s motive in targeting establishments selling liquor for on consumption purposes would serve to restrict patronage at on consumption licensed premises.

The Regulations supersede any liquor selling hours determined either in Provincial or Municipal legislation.

Generally, a gathering may only take place to a maximum of 100 persons (where no liquor is sold) but on consumption premises are now restricted to a maximum of 50 persons.

Gathering means any assembly, concourse or procession of more than 100 persons, wholly or partially, in open air or in a building or premises.

On consumption premises selling liquor must be closed between 18h00 and 09h00 the next morning on weekdays and Saturdays and from 13h00 to 09h00 the following day on Sundays and public holidays.

On consumption premises must comply with the defined adequate space availability restriction, and hygienic conditions as well as limit exposure to persons with COVID-19.

Adequate space means not more than 1 person per square metre of floor space.

Although there is provision for an offence regarding exceeding the 50-person limitation there is no reference to an offence in the event of not complying with the closure provisions – a clear oversight by the drafter.

On consumption premises are exempt from the Regulations should the owner suspend the sale of liquor as part of the business operation. The benefits are that the business can then accommodate 100 patrons at any point in time and trade at any hours.

In the event that the sale of liquor is suspended patrons are permitted to bring their own liquor onto the premises subject to the proprietor permitting same.

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